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Entries in Stranger by the Lake (13)

Thursday
Aug162018

Movies to Make You Hot (& Sweaty)

by Seán McGovern

If summer is making you all hot and bothered (and sticky and sweaty), you should crank your movie watching up to your body heat. What are your favourite films set in the long, hot summer? My suggestions after the jump, cool off in the comments...

Click to read more ...

Friday
Apr152016

Women Who Kill (And The Women Who Love Them)

Team Experience is reporting from the 2016 Tribeca Film Festival. Here's Jason on Women Who Kill.

Replace the hard gray rocks of a Provençal lake with the hard gray sidewalks of Park Slope Brooklyn and you'll find there's a lot in common between the gay men of 2013's Stranger by the Lake and the gay women of Women Who Kill, Ingrid Jungermann's droll black comedy screening today at Tribeca. Sure the lesbians are wearing a lot more clothes, but nature is nature, and who hasn't found themselves fetishizing sexy danger for the right mysterious someone? We want what we want, sanity be damned. (It doesn't hurt when maybe-crazy comes in the form of A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night's sultry-eyed Sheila Vand either.)

Women Who Kill vibes on humor over heavy petting though, and the laughs are steady and smart and nigh on rollicking at times in Jungermann's script, and beneath her sharp straightforward direction - I probably recognized even more of myself in the foibles of these Brooklyn ladies, with their terror of swans and urine-stained grass, than I did their gender-flipped French counterparts. I'm just one serial-killer podcast and an urban rooftop garden away from a perfect storm of commiseration. Who isn't?

Grade: B+

Saturday
Jan032015

Best of the Year Pt. 1: Double the Swedes & Triple the Tilda

With love for last year's cinema.

2015 has a lot to live up to. This past year delivered amazing films from fresh-voiced directors, a good number of them female for a change, and it also came through, unexpectedly, with a surprising spread of high quality empathetic and diverse LGBT cinema. But even if you're stuck in multiplex-only towns, the mainstream also delivered with sneaky overachieving surprises in genres as oft-lazy as superheroes, horror, animation, giant monsters, and crime thrillers. When it came time to draw up my lists I had 30 pictures I really wanted to celebrate. Thirty! 

So let's briefly sum up (alphabetically) the films that just missed the top 20


The Boxtrolls - Laika's boldly grotesque superbly-voiced Victorian fable. 
Godzilla - Smartly reimagined not as reboot but myth returned. The paratroopers. Gah!
Edge of Tomorrow - Emily Blunt's 'full metal bitch' isn't easy to forget. Neither is the film's gleeful rapid fire anarchy in treating Tom Cruise as South Park might. "You killed Tom Cruise!" Repeat ∞
Happy Christmas - No budget? No problem. Just write a warm funny script, film it in your home and hire famous actor friends. Joe Swanberg is living the Cassavettes dream only seems much happier about it.
The LEGO Movie - Excessively clever and fun. But in truth I'd rather it win a Clio than an Oscar.
A Most Violent Year - a slow simmer but Jessica Chastain is at full boil
Nightcrawler - Jake & Rene's bring out each other's best but their character's worst in this amoral nightmare. Great dialogue but man do those laughs curdle.
Two Days One Night - Belgium's Oscar submission is simple in narrative if not in complexity of feeling but Marion Cotillard is impossibly good / real / Oscar worthy
The Way He Looks - In a simply fantastic year for queer cinema (thank god - it's been a while) this was the sweetest offering, a coming of age pic about a blind teenager and his two best friends
Wild Tales - A raucously entertaining Argentinian anthology produced by Pedro Almodóvar and directed with skill and wicked invention by Damian Szifron. If you can, see it with a group of friends (comedies are always best that way). I'm already sad I didn't include it in the top 20!

So here we are. Twenty may feel like an indulgent number to settle on for this 2014 countdown party but it comes down to this. No matter how many times I adjusted my "tippity top" movies list I couldn't live without these twenty. They were the ones that refused to budge, that defined the year for me, that demanded top ten placement, refuting the laws of math. To sum up: This cinephile had a great year in the dark. If you were positive I loved it and you don't see it in the top 20, it's tied for 21st! 

The film year is not drawing to a close just yet -- we keep celebrating through Oscar night. But the calendar year is a wrap so here is part one of my favorites roundup starting with a Tilda Swinton double feature...

Click to read more ...

Thursday
Dec252014

Top Ten Movies from 2014 You Should Catch Up With on Streaming

Margaret here, reporting from the warmth of the family home. In between gift-exchanging and major cooking projects, I'm going to be trying to catch up on as many 2014 movies as possible. For those of us without much time to run to the multiplex, there are plenty of options among recent acquisitions on streaming services. While most of the showiest would-be awards contenders are either still in theaters or holding off on their DVD releases, there are plenty of buzzy (and possibly even soon to be Oscar-nominated) movies available for the couch-bound.

Honorable Mention: Slow-burn crime drama Night Moves (Peter Sarsgaard, Jesse Eisenberg, Dakota Fanning) and Baltimore dirt-biker documentary 12 O'Clock Boys, both on Amazon Prime; Mind-bending relationship dramedy The One I Love (Elisabeth Moss, Mark Duplass) and low-key Swanberg indie Happy Christmas (Anna Kendrick, TFE favorite Melanie Lynskey), both on Netflix Instant.

 

10. Stranger By The Lake (Netflix Instant) This French erotic thriller had critics raving at the beginning of the year, though it hasn't been in much of the end-of-year conversation.

9. Nymphomaniac, parts 1 and 2 (Netflix Instant) Lars von Trier's latest provocation, served in two parts, is not for the faint of heart but is for anyone who wants to see Uma Thurman rip a scene apart in part 1.

8. Enemy (Amazon Prime) Celebrate our Year of Gyllenhaal with double the Jake in his second collaboration with Prisoners director Denis Villeneuve. It's been called "what might happen if someone let Terrence Malick make a "Twilight Zone" episode, with a quick rewrite by David Cronenberg." 

7. Blue Ruin (Netflix Instant) This grim, ultra-budget indie thriller is up for the Independent Spirit's John Cassavetes Award, given to an outstanding picture made for under 500K. Come for the revenge story, stay for the unsettlingly realistic gore.

 

6. We Are The Best! (Netflix Instant) This early-80s-Stockholm-set dramedy about three middle-grade girls who form a punk band irrespective of actual musical gifts has been cropping up on many a top-ten list, and has been widely praised for its infectious joyful spirit.

5. Locke (Amazon Prime) A tense one-man show, this claustrophobic thriller hangs completely on a star turn from Tom Hardy, who's earned TFE raves and even has Brad Pitt stumping for him at industry screenings.

4. The Immigrant (Netflix Instant) The fact that the Weinsteins are giving this sweeping period the redheaded stepchild treatment and dropping it from their campaign slate shouldn't keep you from checking it out. You, too, can join in the mass internet grumble over its being overlooked at the Oscars for Best Actress, Best Score, and Best Cinematography prizes. (It may yet take home some Independent Spirit Awards!)

3. Snowpiercer (Netflix Instant) Critics have been all over the brutal, absurd, and entirely original dystopian action film. It's a dark horse for Supporting Actress with Tilda Swinton's bonkers performance, and full to the brim with memorable setpieces. Don't be a shoe; watch it!

 

2. Under the Skin (Amazon Prime) The atmospheric alien fever dream has a legion of ardent fans, and is the hip moviegoer's choice for a top-ten-list entry guaranteed not to repeat at the Oscars. Guaranteed to be among the most visually memorable movies you see all year.

1. Ida (Amazon Prime and Netflix Instant) This little movie has been an awards magnet, and may well make a smooth trip to the Best Foreign film Oscar come February. Since it's present on two major streaming services and clocks in at a mere 80 minutes, there's no excuse not to catch up with this starkly beautiful and poignant Polish drama. 

Which movies are you planning to catch up with from home? Have any additional streaming recommendations?

Tuesday
Nov112014

Top Ten: Worthy Performances That Will Win No Awards

Jose here. Every year as the awards race picks up, it seems as if we’re all collectively Lacuna-ed into forgetting all the great performances that came before Oscar narrows them down to twenty that by then, have won or been nominated for dozens of other awards. But what about the performances so “small”, “weird” or “foreign” that stand no chance in hell of competing with the FYC ads in the trades and/or Harvey Weinstein’s Sauron-like powers? We celebrate those performances, right now:

10. Keira Knightley - Begin Again

Sure, The Weinstein Company is behind this one, but even Harvey knows there is no point in trying to get a nod for this low-key, charming musical, especially not when he can get Keira an Oscar for a WWII flick, which makes more sense, right? Her performance here reminded me of Last Night in which she does so much with her eyes, which is something Begin Again director John Carney achieves with everyone in this cast. I’m still shocked that not a single awards body back in 2007 recognized the subdued and lovely performances by Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová in Once. Why do you think this kind of acting seems so unworthy of awards?

More after the jump...

Click to read more ...

Tuesday
Jul082014

Halfway Pt. 4: Top Ten Movies of 2014 (Thus Far)

For today's Tuesday Top Ten it's your last peek at Nathaniel's top ten list for 2014 until the official one at year's end. Only films that have already played theaters in regular release are eligible hence endearing indies like Happy Christmas (currently On Demand) or instant classics like Love is Strange or next weekend's highly raved openers (Dawn of the Planet of the Apes and Boyhood) cannot yet apply. Herewith my ten favorite pictures of 2014 thus far since we've already looked at favorite sights and favorite sounds. 

You should see all of these movies. How many will stick around for the official top ten of 2014? I haven't a clue. That's half the excitement of drawing these invisible lines in the sand and waiting with hot anticipation for the rest of the year's wonders

TOP TEN FILMS OF 2014'S FIRST HALF
(ALPHA ORDER)

BEGIN AGAIN (John Carney) 104 minutes
Weinstein Co | June 27th| Box Office Rank of 2014 (At This Moment) #85 with $1.7 million

Like a new favorite song you can't stop playing, it's hard to even suss out why it's so damn loveable. My hunch is that its ephemeral endearments are powered by the combo of writer/director John Carney's sincere musicality (he captured lightning in a bottle with Once) and Keira Knightley's wonderfully relaxed but emotionally astute work as an abandoned musician who genuinely doesn't care about fame and fortune but has lots of love for music and people... whether or not they deserve it.

CAPTAIN AMERICA 2 (Anthony & Joe Russo) 136 minutes
Marvel/Disney | April 4th | Box Office Rank of 2014 (At This Moment) #1 $257 million

The best superhero film since the genre's peak in 2004 with that Spider-Man 2 and The Incredibles double-whammy and the best yet from Marvel Studios. I've probably raved enough this year but practically everything works from performance to action to theme and especially the firm sense of identity and character work at its core (here's a fine piece on that). That sense of self saves this superhero film from the generic problems that plague its genre. [Review]

CHILD'S POSE (Calin Peter Netzer) 112 minutes 
Zeitgeist | February 19th |  Box Office Rank of 2014 (At This Moment) #170 with $97 thousand 

Romania's 2013 Oscar submission continues the super annoying but enormously familiar trend of gambling its entire US release strategy around an Oscar nomination that doesn't materialize. Which is a pity since gold statues aren't everything (Ida proves that memorable foreign films don't need any awards buzz at all to find their natural fanbases but more on that in a minute) and this arguably overripe melodrama about a rich bitch trying to cover-up her son's crime is gripping. [Review]

alien invasions, travelling nuns, and mouthy toys after the jump...

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